Reworking the classics with synthesizers has a long tradition, extending from Wendy Carlos’ Switched-On Bach to the Ferry Corsten/William Orbit take on Barber’s Adagio for Strings. Reinterpreting the classics is tough, though, and few electronic reinterpretations have proven to have much lasting interest.
Classics Regrooved is new compilation that features electronica arrangements of 15 themes from classical music. The tracks range from remixes to electronica-styled arrangements to new works based on the original themes.
The CD is a “lifestyle” release, from the concept to the cover that features a beautiful woman reclining languorously. The CD is quirky and unique, but not as challenging or interesting as some other takes on the classics. Some of the artists use the barest samplings of the original works, while others reorchestrate entire pieces. This brings variety to the CD, but also makes it somewhat uneven.
Several tracks on the CD stand out. Jay Atwood’s techno take on Bizet’s Habenera captures the exoticism of the original. Atwood plays fast and loose with the Bizet’s music, but makes great use of the elements he keeps. The track is enjoyable as a techno/trance tune, independent of the original. A successful regrooving!
Dominique and Ives contribute two tracks, an interpretation of Saint-Saens’ The Swan, and Massenet’s Meditaion from Thais. The tracks combine chilled-out grooves, synthesizer backing and traditional instruments to create lovely reinterpretations. Their quirky backing adds interest to relatively conservative arrangements.
Sintestro and Archon rework Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C# Minor, focusing on the main theme. They add in swirling analog-sounding synth basslines that give the track a driving feel. Verdi’s Dies Irae also gets a techno-style “regroove”. Eros focuses on the violence of the original, which describes the biblical day of wrath.
Joseph Jaime surprises with his arrangement of Ase’s Death, a somber section from Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite. Jaime keeps the bones of the original, but turns it into progressive upbeat hip-hop, if there is such a thing. Jaime’s heavy hip-hop grooves and pulsing synth pads contrast with the mood of the original, and help him make the piece his own.
One of the most exciting reworkings is Electric Skychurch’s reworking of Schubert’s The Erlking. The text, in German, tells the story of a father riding a horse furiously home through a storm, with his dying child in his arms. The child, in a fever, cries out that the Erlking, a death-like figure, is calling to him. The father tries to reassure his child, but his fear increases, even as they draw closer to home. German-speaking listeners may wonder where the climax of the original text is, but the piece works as progressive trance.
The tracks on Classics Regrooved may irk classical purists, because of the compromises made in adapting the originals. Classical music routinely uses changes in dynamics and tempo for expressive effect. Most of the tracks on the CD dispense with this, substituting regular dance beats and compressed dynamics to make the tracks dancefloor-friendly. But listeners that don’t mind a break from tradition will find some interesting tracks.
- Für Elise (Beethoven Regrooved) performed by skylab 2000
- Habanera (Bizet Regrooved) performed by Jay Atwood
- Ave Maria (Schubert Regrooved) performed by EROS
- The Swan (Saint-Saens Regrooved) performed by Domingues & Ives
- Toccata & Fugue in C minor (Bach Regrooved) performed by Electric Skychurch
- Prelude In C# minor (Rachmaninoff Regrooved) performed by Sinestro & Archon
- Ase’s Death (Grieg Regrooved) performed by Joseph Jaime
- Hungarian Dance No. 5 (Brahms Regrooved) performed by skylab 2000
- Arabesque (Debussey Regrooved) performed by Mojo Jones
- Gloria (Vivaldi Regrooved) performed by DJ Scotty Marz
- Meditation from Thais (Massenet Regrooved) performed by Domingues & Ives
- Night on Bald Mountain (Mussorgsky Regrooved) performed by Jay Atwood
- Pavane For a Dead Princess (Ravel Regrooved) performed by Casey Baldwin
- Dies Irae (Verdi Regrooved) performed by EROS
- The Erlking (Schubert Regrooved) performed by Electric Skychurch)